Buy a Conventional Villa and Convert it to a Comfortable Energy Efficient Home

I’ve just been doing a residual valuation of a site in Los Monteros Marbella. A number of things struck me. Perhaps most surprisingly the figures do actually stack up. In other words even at today’s market valuations you can buy the land, build a new villa, and sell at a profit.

Energy efficient retro fit
Tastefully converted villa for energy efficiency

So market forces have brought the price of land kicking and screaming back into balance, which is nice even if it’s taken a few years, although this hasn’t happened everywhere along the coast.

The other thing that struck me, as I trawled through tens of comparable properties on estate agents websites, was how cold, literally and metaphorically, and conventional most villas are. In one photo of the home office of a quite up-market villa there was a gas heater in the corner. “That says it all” I thought to myself.

I see this as a tremendous opportunity. It is possible to buy your cold conventional villa at a knock down price, perhaps from a distressed seller (distasteful as that may seem) and convert it into a comfortable energy efficient home.

Insulation can make your building warm in winter cool in summer. It can cover any thermal bridges in the original design.

New windows and doors can improve airtightness, appearance and security. Once you’ve got an air tight building you can control the internal environment to make it healthy and comfortable.

A mechanical ventilation and heat exchange system can extract dirty air from the kitchen and bathroom and introduce clean filtered air at the right temperature and humidity into the bedrooms and living spaces. As the fresh air comes in it exchanges heat with stale air being expelled. So you keep your hard won coolness in summer and warmth in winter. That’s very efficient.

Radiant underfloor cooling and heating systems make all the surfaces in your home the right temperature: not just the air. That’s far more comfortable and something you just can’t get from a conventional system.

Renewable energy systems such as heat pumps, geothermal, solar hot water protect you from rising energy prices and lower your carbon footprint.

If you’re more ambitious and want to go off-grid all your modern gadgets and toys can be powered by photovoltaic electricity, wind turbines, hydro- electric or whatever’s appropriate to the local conditions.

The beauty is that the cost of all this can be compensated by the bargain prices which are currently available because some unfortunate people have fallen foul to the recession. And you have an asset which will hold its value against the new zero carbon buildings which are obligatory as from 1st January 2019.

Author: John Wolfendale
Bio: John is a founder of Eco Vida and is passionate about bringing modern design and construction practices to Spain. He believes a home which is warm in winter and cool in summer is largely a matter of design and selective use of materials. He is British and a Chartered Surveyor with 18 years experience living and working in Spain.

John Wolfendale
John Wolfendale